Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Examples of Contentment in real life.

I must say that for the most part, I’m a very sheltered individual and am naive about how most of this world lives. I was born in the U.S. and outside going to places outside the U.S. on vacation and on mission trips, I know very little about how the other half lives. Now, I’ve heard stories and seen pictures, but that doesn’t bring reality close enough for a person to really know what it’s like to be poor and without. You see, if for some reason this morning we ran out of milk, I could jump in my new automobile, which is filled with expensive gasoline and go to a near-by grocery store and get milk and pay for it. Most likely, I would still have some money to buy other things if I had wanted to. I could pour that milk into a bowl of cereal and use utensils that we have plenty of. I could cut on running water inside my house and clean those bowls and utensils and place them back with all the other bowls and utensils and all the other plates and saucers etc; I could put the milk back into our side by side refrigerator to keep it cold along with all the other things that need to stay cool. Last night, even though it was cold outside, I was able to have heat and I was able to have a comfortable bed with clean sheets and covers. I was able to jump into the shower this morning without fear of not having hot water.
In other words, I’ve pretty much got it made.
Now, this past summer, I was privileged to go to Honduras on a medical mission trip. Now Honduras is in Central America and not really all that far from the U.S.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize something was different, real different. We had to fly into a different airport than originally planned because an airplane had crashed on the originally planned landing strip and they had not cleaned the debris up as of the time we were scheduled to be there. This perhaps should have been the first thing that made me realize, this was not going to be a vacation. So we fly into San Pedro Sula which is by third world countries standards, an OKAY place to be. It’s about 50 miles inland and it’s the most northern city of Honduras that we visited. Everywhere else we went, was south of that area. Now just to give you some geography lesson, Honduras is south of the small country of Belize, east of Guatemala and El Salvador and north of Nicaragua.
Shouldn’t be so much different than some parts of the U.S. Right? We spent 4 nights in what was known as their very best hotels. Now this hotel was inside a guarded fence and there were several guards with rifles and pistols and they seemed to mean business when they talked. The rooms were two small bedrooms, a small kitchen and a couch to set on to watch TV. The first night we heard gun shots outside our room and there were several shots. Not sure what happened but no one could tell us the next morning what happened. We had breakfast there and all was well. When we went to the church that we were going to have the medical clinic at, we started to see some of the poverty. We saw small houses, all behind fences or walls meant to keep others out. All were small and dirty. Auto’s were all old and I didn’t see any auto that looked like it hadn’t already paid a visit to the junk yard. In fact, I saw wagons being pulled with mules, and oxen. It started to sink in that this was going to be different. The church had a high metal fence around it to keep people out. In the U.S. we want people to come in. The bathroom was outside and both men and women used it. In the U.S. we call them outhouses. The sewer system can’t take toilet paper so it’s discarded in the trash can. Now I had seen that before in Portugal and a lot of eastern Europe is like that. The streets had water flowing on both sides of the street. This water was run off from water used inside these homes and anything else. No telling where all that water came from. It was also suppose to handle the rain water also, but that didn’t happen, because when it rained , everything flooded. Cleanliness is an obstacle in these 3rd world countries. We spent 3 days and 4 nights there and then we moved on. On one occasion, our bus drivers had to drive back streets and unpaved streets to avoid having our windows broken out and the bus trashed only because a strike had occurred for all drivers of buses, cabs, etc; We headed to Comayagua which is located toward the south and in the mountain regions of Honduras. Roads are paved by not very wide and everybody believes the entire road belongs to them and they drive on either side and it would cause any sane person to go crazy just watching how close you come to being in an accident. Now we are out of what they call the city and we are in the countryside. Houses for the most part are not houses made of wood, but we see more houses made from clay or mud. Children playing outside as if they were ordinary children with every thing they ever needed. People working in the fields, Pineapple fields, coconut fields, banana fields, etc; Now we had just left the wealthy and now we were going to the poor. The people we just left would have been considered poor in the U.S. but not there, they had the upper lifestyle. Now we were really going to see the poor. It was hot and muggy in San Pedro Sula and now it was beginning to cool off somewhat as we got into the mountain region. We again went to a church that was surrounded by a metal high fence which was to keep people out and someone had to allow you through by unlocking the gate. We spent 3 days and nights here and it was obvious, that these people here had little of nothing and this was their once a year visit to the doctor to get medication to get rid of worms, parasites etc; that they got from drinking the water and who knows where else. One day, we drove by a military base used by the U.S. during the Santanesta uprising several years ago. The U.S. still maintains that base. We drove toward the capital city of Tequcigalpa but we didn’t actually go there, just close by. We visited the WOL camp missionaries who were our host during our stay in Honduras.

Now there really is a point to this story. I had everything in the U.S. that I needed to be comfortable. When I got to Honduras, I perceived that things were not the same and therefore, even though I felt God wanted me to be there, I was not content with the situation. It was different and less easy and less comfortable. I could find differences in food, in housing, in bathroom facilities, in cleanliness, in comfort, in communication, in travel, etc; It was different and I perceived it to be different.

Now, the people I met in Honduras were awesome people. They were happy, they were friendly and standing in line for medical help was no big deal to them. Some stood in line for many hours just to be able to see a doctor or dentist. It was obvious, they had little of nothing and yet they smiled and were beautiful people. The children were playful and didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

What’s the difference? I say it’s perception. They don’t know any different, thereby their perception is, “this is the way it is”. My perception is , man this is different and it don’t have to be this way. Now that’s the real difference in Contentment. To God be the Glory for the U.S of A. But also, to God be the Glory for great things He has done. Many people were provided the only medical attention they will get until we go back again, and many people prayed to receive Christ as Savior during this trip. Would I go back and be uncomfortable? You bet ya! Would consider it a privilege. I have visions of little children embedded in my mind who smiled and said Gracias, even when I didn’t do anything for them. God bless the precious people of Honduras and Estoy mas o menos, ee todo esta bien.


Greg P. said...

As you were saying in yesterday's post, contentment is perception. It really is eye opening, isn't it? When I was in the military I saw the poverty you described. What an education that was for a 20 yr. old kid who had it easy back here in the States.

Yet, most Americans think poverty is just going to the poor section of their own town. They should see how so much of the world lives, and yet, still happy in their simple existence.

Good post Eddie.

BethAnne said...

There is something to be said for being ignorant of all the world has to offer....those people are really blessed even though the majority of the world would say they are cursed.